Following in the footsteps of the Gay Liberation, Feminist, and Civil Rights Movements, polyamorists are in the midst of an advocacy program attempting to educate members of the general public about polyamory and foster social acceptance for polyamorous relationships. They are doing this as activists and organizations dedicated to education and advocacy.
There are a number of individuals who are activists working on behalf of polyamory. On the educational side, there are activists like Ken Haslam who endowed a polyamory collection at the Kinsey Institute and has coined terms like swolly to describe the overlap between swinging and polyamory, and polygeezers to describer older polys like himself. Jim Fleckenstein, an independent researcher and educator, presents at conferences and publishes in academic journals on a range of issues relevant to polyamory. Alan M. at Polyamory in the Media collects references to polyamory in popular culture.
Another group of activists is more practical and focuses on building skills among poly people and outreach to the general public. These include people like Dawn Davidson at Love Outside the Box, Sarah Taub and Michael Rios at the Center for New Culture, and Anita Wagner Illig with Practical Polyamory.
A loosely knit group of activists, the Polyamory Leadership Network is not exactly an organization in that it does not have much structure or officers. It provides a forum for communication among people “working to advance public awareness of polyamory … as a valid and positive relationship choice for some people [and] to educate the public and build skills and resources within the growing worldwide poly community itself.”
Organizations Focused on Polyamory
Since 1994, Loving More has published a magazine, maintained a website, and organized several yearly conventions for people in poly relationships. Currently headed up by Robyn Trask, Loving More provides education, advocacy, and community connections surrounding polyamory.
The Polyamory Society sponsors the PolyFamily Advocacy Division, which aims to: “support, assist and strengthen PolyFamilies of all forms and cultures with effective programs, services, information and resources in a spirit of responsibility and advocacy. To assist PolyFamilies in our community with issues and problems that confront them from infancy to old age, and from relationship(s) formation to dissolution through death or divorce.”
Based in Victoria, British Columbia, the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Organization “advocates on behalf of Canadians who practice polyamory. It promotes legal, social, government, and institutional acceptance and support of polyamory, and advances the interests of the Canadian polyamorous community generally.
The Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness attempts to:” serve the Unitarian Universalist Association and the community of polyamorous people within and outside the UUA by providing support, promoting education, and encouraging spiritual wholeness regarding polyamory.”
In addition to the organizations listed above that are specifically dedicated to polyamory, there are a number of foundations, associations, and alliances dedicated to serving sex and gender minorities like kinksters, gays and lesbians, and polyamorists or others in consensually non-monogamous relationships.
The Woodhull Freedom Foundation aims to advance the recognition of sexual, gender, and family diversity. Uniting a range of sexual identities and practices, Woodhull affirms sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.
The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund opposes restrictive sexual practices such as: governmental interference in consensual sexual expression between and among adults; interference in custody of children solely on the basis of parents’ private sexual expression; and criminal prosecution for consensual sexual acts. Under the direction of Executive Director Valerie White, the SFLDEF works to assist sexual minorities embroiled in legal cases with funding for legal fees, referrals to attorneys and expert witnesses, and information and education about alternative sexual expression.
The Polyamory On Purpose series aims to “talk about the practical side of polyamory and how you can plan to deal with all of the fun, insane, wonderful hassles of day-to-day in a polyamorous relationship.”
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the Relationship Equality Foundation provides “outreach, education, and support for those involved in or seeking relationships with non-traditional structures, and education and outreach to the general public about these relationships.” REF does this with continuing education events for counselors, social workers, and therapists and conventions for polyamorists and their families like the Atlanta Poly Weekend.
A research and advocacy organization focused on education, the Community Alliance for Academic Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) provides “support and promotion of excellence in the study of alternative sexualities and the dissemination of research to the alternative sexuality communities, the public, and the research community.”